China inspires bun fight over iPhone 6

September 23, 2014 10:10
Customers stand behind a barrier outside an Apple Store in New York. The iPhone 6 is creating pent-up demand so big the resell market is going through the roof. Photo: Bloomberg

It's a wild and woolly world out there for iPhone 6 fanatics -- and profiteers.

The melee is being driven by China's craving for Apple Inc.'s blockbuster smartphone, with speculators from Hong Kong to Atlanta and New Haven, Connecticut, scrambling to sell into the world's biggest mobile phone market at up to four times the retail price.

In New Haven, home to Yale University, the fight was more than academic. Rival groups came to blows over the chance to get their hands on the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus and ship them to China, Bloomberg reported Tuesday, citing police sources.

The gangs had traveled from New York, two hours away by car, to try to scoop up as many of the devices as they could, according to police spokesman David Hartman.

In Atlanta last week, skirmishes broke out after large crowds tried to storm a mall.

And in Hong Kong, a black market grew around Apple's flagship store over the weekend with all the sounds and sights of a flea market as iPhone 6 changed hands at a mark-up of as much as US$2,850, according to local media.

China is not on a list of markets that will get the phones in the next wave, beginning Sept. 26. That’s driving up the premium the devices will fetch if brought into China from other countries, Bloomberg said.

Some stores have limited the number of iPhones that can be purchased by each shopper, so groups who aim to bring large quantities to China have to assemble recruits to vie for the stores’ limited stock.

“It’s our understanding that the mark-up on these phones when they’re resold in China can be upwards of 300 percent,” Hartman said.

“For the most part, the dozens and hundreds of people who are waiting in line are just doing that.”

Apple Inc. sold a record 10 million iPhones during the first weekend in stores around the world, including four million in pre-orders alone.

Other shoppers are intent to sell the devices as soon as they get them to take advantage of early demand.

Filmmaker Casey Neistat released a short documentary online showing people sleeping on the sidewalk outside an Apple store to be among the first line, acquiring two iPhones apiece in cash, then selling them immediately outside of the store, the report said.

Many of the people interviewed in the documentary didn’t speak English, and some replied to questions in Mandarin.

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